Tuesday, September 17, 2019 

Gary Larson's Far Side comic strips may return online

10 Daily Australia reports on what appears to be cartoonist Gary Larson, creator of the 1980-95 Far Side newspaper strips, planning on returning to the scene on the web:
Well, it appears the illustrator has warmed up to the idea of the web, with an update to The Far Side website signalling a comeback of some sort.

The site's homepage now displays a fresh illustration of a man thawing out a block of ice with classic Larson characters stuck inside.

"Uncommon, unreal, and (soon-to-be) unfrozen," the caption reads.

"A new online era of The Far Side is coming!"
It's not clear whether it's for real or just online sales of his past creations. But if Larson avoids political correctness in what he's planning, he'll be accomplishing something in an era where humor's sadly being destroyed by "wokeness".

While we're on the subject of newspaper strips, the Kansas City Star reported that editor Lee Salem of Universal Press Syndicate, the publisher behind strips like Fox Trot and Calvin & Hobbes, passed away at age 73.

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Monday, September 16, 2019 

Bendis and Rucka will force Superman to reveal his secret ID as Clark Kent

What might've once been considered an okay plot does not work well when you have somebody as disrespectful as Brian Bendis and Greg Rucka happen to be running the show. Comic Book (via Heroic Hollywood) reported:
For decades, people have wondered about the man behind the Man of Steel, hoping to find out the true identity of Superman. And while Lex Luthor, Bruce Wayne, and countless other characters have managed to deduce the character's identity, Clark Kent has managed to stay one step ahead of everyone so far. But now, the new solicits indicate that Kent is taking his fate into his own hands in future storylines, with the comic books Lois Lane and Superman indicating that he'll finally come clean to the denizens of Metropolis.
The 18th Superman story Bendis wrote seems to go by this, but for now, what's eyebrow raising is - denizens?!? I can only guess...the city's destroyed or teleported to some other dimension? Oh, who cares? With Bendis at the helm, you know something's bound to go wrong. Also, while Lex Luthor may have figured out Clark Kent was Superman in the early 2000s, a rival villain may have erased that knowledge soon after.

Then, here's the Lois Lane story by Rucka where it becomes clearer what's going to happen:
Someone wanting to kill Lois Lane is nothing new for the famed reporter, but is it because of something she knows or something she’s about to uncover? Plus, this issue ties to the events of December’s Superman #18 and the gigantic status quo shift for both Lois and her husband, Superman, when the Man of Steel decides to reveal his identity to the world.
Under shoddy writers like these, it can only rate as worthless. Even if exposure of the secret lasts longer than it did for Spider-Man when Peter Parker unmasked during Civil War, a crossover Bendis was involved in, he is so full of contempt for fandom, there's no point in considering this worth buying. Besides, Iron Man unmasked over 15 years ago when Mike Grell penned his botched run, and it made no genuine impression on anyone, and was abandoned since. Just think: First, in a wretched story by David Goyer 8 years ago, Supes gives up his US citizenship. Now, he gives up his secret ID behind the glasses.

Maybe the idea of Superman and his sidekicks dropping their secret IDs could have potential. But not under writers as undeserving of their jobs as Bendis and Rucka happen to be.

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Sunday, September 15, 2019 

Polygon gushes over the demise of some of the mutants in Hickman's X-Men

Some more of Polygon's sugarcoated takes on overrated ideas. Case in point: the deaths of X-Men in Jonathan Hickman's relaunch of the franchise:
To be fair, not all of the X-Men died, but a pretty decent number of the biggest ones did. And we know that some, if not all, of the characters who died in House of X #4 will be alive again in time for October, when they’ll appear in Marvel’s upcoming slate of new X-books, Dawn of X.

But it was the way that the X-Men died that made House of X #4 the biggest topic of conversation in comics last week. Even though the storyline is literally about a character who can restart X-Men history whenever she wants, the violent, valiant deaths of the X-Men packed a surprisingly emotional punch. And the final pages of the issue brought that theme home in an even more emphatic way. [...]

In the final pages of House of X #4, the series’ tidy, impersonal charts seem to be overwhelmed by Professor X’s emotions, as the X-Men die to prevent another mutant genocide and he declares “No more.” Are you reading this book yet?
No way. I've long ceased to take these fawning tactics at face value. If Hickman believes some mutants must become sacrifices for the sake of emphasizing death, he's perpetuated a tasteless modern method of storytelling. We could seriously do without it. Violent deaths for the sake of violence doesn't work anymore.

They also gave a brief take on Brian Bendis' work on Legion of Super-Heroes: Millenium #1:
Brian Michael Bendis takes the reader on a whistle stop tour of the known future of the DC Universe, including the pockets of Batman Beyond and Kamandi, all in the pursuit of setting up the return of the Legion of Superheroes, a group of teenagers from the far future who are inspired by 20th century history to become intergalactic peacekeepers. We follow little-known vigilante Rose Thorn through time, each new era illustrated by a fantastic artist.
The art sample they provide here doesn't look particularly "fantastic". But then, these kind of sites took it upon themselves to approach artwork from a very dumbed down perspective for nearly a decade now. One more item they gushed over is Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass:
Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass is the best of DC Comics’ YA books so far — which makes sense, since it’s coming from one of the best writers in the YA graphic novel scene, Mariko Tamaki, and the incredibly talented pen of Steve Pugh. Pictured above: (Poison) Ivy screaming at the president of the film club, who refuses to show any movies directed by women.
This is just so hilarious for all the wrong reasons. I've sometimes been at film festivals in the past where movies directed by women like Sofia Coppola were prominently featured, so this dumb social justice tale just falls flat on its face.

And that's another sample of Polygon's pathetic gushing, which doesn't impress one bit.

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Saturday, September 14, 2019 

Polygon considers Tom King's Mr. Miracle miniseries among the "best" of the year

Surprise, surprise: the awful Polygon website gushes over what they think is the best of the year (coming awfully early, before it's even ended in December), and wouldn't you know it, they believe bottom of the barrel scribe Tom King's dreadful Mr. Miracle miniseries is one of the best this year's seen:
Mister Miracle is the greatest escape artist in the universe. Mister Miracle is about becoming so accustomed to escaping that we forget when to stop.

The twelve-issue miniseries, collected for the first time in 2019, begins with its title character surviving a suicide attempt, and goes many places from there: war, sex, show business, renovating your condo, governing a planet. A baby’s first birthday party is planned. A god tears out his own eye.
Wow, there's gore and self-mutilation in this horror story? Okay, I've heard enough. Won't be wasting my money on this junk. It goes without saying that depicting Scott Free as suicidal was out of character to begin with.
From an outside-of-comics perspective, Mister Miracle is a barely-third-tier superhero. From the vantage point of comics history, he’s a can’t-miss character, a whole cloth creation of Jack Kirby, one of the medium’s greatest talents, at a time of peak creative freedom. King and Gerads weave layers upon layers of meaning into the series, allowing it to unfold more meaning the deeper you’re willing to look.

For everything else that it is, Mister Miracle is an ode to the form and history of comics. A love letter to Jack “Comics will break your heart” Kirby and the work he did when most disillusioned with the industry.

Mister Miracle will show you it’s possible to put a heart back together again.
Not if King's handling of Heroes in Crisis says anything. Maybe that's why it isn't mentioned in this "roundup". Nor do they acknowledge this is exactly why Kirby could've been disillusioned with the industry in his time. You cannot even put a heart back together with horrid writers like King - and reprehensible editors like Dan DiDio - in charge. So long as they remain, it's about as possible as it would be to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. And what meaning is there in a story by a man who makes life look like such a downer?

Another item to comment on here would be Cosmic Ghost Rider, where an alternate world Punisher apparently becomes a combination of GR and Silver Surfer:
Cosmic stories can be a challenging hook for new readers, precisely because they have so few parallels outside of superhero comics settings. But then ... there’s Cosmic Ghost Rider: Baby Thanos Must Die.

It’s a comic about what happens when an alternate universe version of the Punisher — who has gained the powers of both the Ghost Rider and Galactus’ herald, the Silver Surfer — decides to go back in time and kill Thanos in his cradle. Basically nothing goes the way you think it would go from there.

The most surprising thing about Cosmic Ghost Rider: Baby Thanos Must Die is that as bizarre as Donny Cates’ plot is, and as inventive as Dylan Burnett’s art is, the book is totally accessible, and totally convincing of the madcap fun that can be found in the cosmic genre.
Yup, I'm sure it is. Anybody who's going to fawn over King's embarrassments does nothing to convince me here. Besides, if Thanos lives by the end of this story, it'll be no shock at all. Mainly because mainstream superhero publishers have put more value on villains in the past than heroes. The art sample I've seen on Polygon's page doesn't look particularly inventive either.

Polygon has once again demonstrated they have no understanding or respect of the superhero genre, or what makes it work.

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Friday, September 13, 2019 

The lady colorist from Ireland who's coloring the best for Dynamite Entertainment

Ireland's Echo Live interviewed Ellie Wright, a lady comics colorist from Cork who's been doing illustrations for Dynamite titles like the series based on Bettie Page's image, and Cassandra Peterson's Elvira creation:
ELLIE Wright is making waves in the comic industry and earning a growing reputation internationally.

Ellie, aged 28, who graduated this year from a four-year multimedia course at Cork Institute of Technology, has been working in the comic book industry while studying full time,

Since finishing her degree her career has begun to take off.

“I am colouring four different comic books at the moment that are released every month,” Ellie said. [...]

Ellie, originally from Cornwall, but living in Cork city for the last 12 years, is working on two characters with Dynamite Entertainment, Betty Page and Elvira.

“Betty Page was an American model from the 1950s known for her pin-up photos, often referred to as the Queen of Pinups.

“In her comic book series Betty gets into classified adventures set back in 1951 Hollywood and she must set out to solve cases.”

Elvira is taken from ‘Elvira: Mistress of the Dark’ a 1988 American comedy horror film. “In the comic, she has become stuck in time and is on a journey through horror and history.”

Ellie described the characters as feisty women, taking on ‘The Boss’ role and always getting into trouble. “It is fantastic fun working on female leading roles. I get the script every month and I love seeing the different scenarios the characters get themselves into.”
I'm sure we can all guess why US papers aren't giving women like her any attention. A woman who's got no issues working on projects where a woman is hot doesn't fit into their loathsome PC narrative. IMO, Wright made some great choices for what to work on, that clearly please plenty of ladies and gents alike in the audience, and best of all, are produced by sources other than the Big Two.

So, there you have another lady comic developer who's being all but overlooked by the wider press who're too consumed by social justice obsessions to take notice. The series Wright's working on, from what I can tell, are well worth the price of admission.

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Thursday, September 12, 2019 

DC's fate under AT&T to be learned soon?

Cosmic Book News says the fate determined for DC Comics by AT&T in their merger with Time-Warner could be coming soon:
It's being speculated that AT&T, the parent company of WarnerMedia which includes DC Entertainment, may sell off the brand in a part of a move to save billions of dollars.

Former DC Comics artist Ethan Van Sciver was tipped off by someone at DC in regards to an article published by Barrons titled "AT&T Was Headed in the Right Direction Before Activist Elliott Management Showed Up," which is in regards to Hedge fund Elliott Management having disclosed a whopping $3.2 billion stake in AT&T.

[...] Ethan Van Sciver goes on to speculate that AT&T could divest itself of DC - meaning getting rid of DC - as AT&T may no longer want or require the brand as part of its business interest or investment.

[...] What remains to be seen is if AT&T will simply close DC Comics and keep the movies and TV properties (I've been told WB wants to connect everything regarding movies, TV and streaming networks) or whether they will license off DC Comics or sell all of DC Entertainment, including the comics, movies and TV properties, or simply continue the way things have been going but make changes on an executive-level or more.
They can keep the movie and merchandise rights, IMHO. It's just the publishing arm that's in sore need of either a better management, or closure altogether, if that's what it takes to get rid of the ideologues who took it over. If they still keep ownership, nothing short of ridding the company of reprehensible men like Dan DiDio will suffice. He's only led them to disaster, and it's time already to make a serious change in the interior management of who's in charge of the company.

Otherwise, they'll only come off looking like a joke, and the loss of sales will eventually bring them down completely.

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Cap and Bucky's relationship retconned to childhood friends of same age?

It looks as though the 1000 special Marvel's produced couldn't go without yet more pointless retcons of the past, as Screen Rant's revealed is the case with Captain America and Bucky Barnes:
The friendship between Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes is officially one of the most well-known, thanks to Marvel's Captain America movies. So it's no surprise that Marvel Comics just quietly changed the origins of Steve and Bucky, to better match the version seen in the MCU as opposed to the original comics.
In that case, it can't be one of the most well-known at all, if they lack that much faith in themselves to leave the Golden Age origins alone. Obviously, they're relying on the perception no moviegoer will ever pick up the Golden Age Marvel Masterworks (as far as I know, no Epic Collection's been produced to date compiling the GA material) available to date, where they'd see a different story than what this new rendition is pretending to be canon, as explained in what follows:
To be clear, it isn't the kind of retcon that makes Captain America responsible for Wolverine like was recently revealed, throwing years of canon into question. Nor is it the kind of lighthearted Easter Egg that brings the worst Captain America movie into comic canon. Thanks to a flashback in the special Marvel Comics #1000, Steve Rogers was just slyly given a different origin story. One in which Steve Rogers and his friendship with James "Bucky" Barnes goes all the way... to the start. [...]

The conclusion of the short story suggests that this is equal parts flashback, a strange premonition from young Steve about the decades-long chill in his future, a memory returning to Steve during that time on ice, or a conjured dream in the same frozen state. The truth of it is entirely ambiguous, but the scene itself isn't: it suggests that Steve Rogers and James Barnes were children together, before Steve's deficiencies were even noticeable. Something every fan of the original Captain America comics knows was NOT the case.
And I wouldn't recommend anybody not in the know of Kirby/Simon's original tale take this at face value. It certainly shouldn't be accepted at the expense of what the original writers and artists worked hard to produce in their time. What they're doing, if it's really what it's assumed to be, insults the intellect of moviegoers as much as comics readers, making it look as though they have to accept every new modern rendition and retcon instead of the Kirby/Simon work.
Even if the difference between Captain America and his young sidekick, Bucky, is just four years, this memory doesn't add up. But more importantly, it's always been canon that Steve Rogers became a hero during World War II, inspiring the young Bucky to train up as his eventual partner. Making them childhood friends, like this scene shows, erases all of that in favor of the MCU version--in which Steve and Bucky are implied to be friends from childhood. Unless Steve's frozen mind is creating a fantasy in which the two played as children, which... well, suggests a story that would need more than one page to explore properly.
Thank goodness this is talking sense. If Marvel #1000's aimed at a wider public audience, as I've assumed, then this is not being fair to them, or Kirby/Simon. But then, Marvel hasn't been respectable of the 2 late scribes' memories for ages already. Maybe, in the end, it is just a dream sequence, but it's an awfully easy idea, and a far better one could've been a flashback to Steve's early life with his family in the pre-WW2 era. If the writers can only think of - and editors only allow them to - rely on obvious ingredients, then it's no wonder they fail to impress in the end.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2019 

Why the adaptations are popular but not the source material

Fortress of Solitude wrote about why comics movies are popular, but not the comic books, and moviegoers won't check out the zygotes. Among the reasons they cite for why the stark difference between what's successful and what's not, there's this:
For one, there’s the reality that most people don’t read nowadays. If you don’t believe me, hit the comments section of this article on Facebook and see how many people bothered to read all the way to the end before commenting. We live in an era of abundance, instant gratification and pure laziness. Why use your brain to read a comic book when you can watch Kardashian sisters sobbing and fighting with each other about a pair of boots on TV? It’s a behavioural thing, which requires an attitude change.
Well that's certainly valid. If not enough people care to read books, let alone comics, it's no wonder the medium can't find success.
Then, there’s the problem of where to start with comic books. The biggest question I receive from people who want to start collecting and reading comics is, “Where do I start because it’s all confusing?” It isn’t a lie. There are far too many reboots, #1s and confusing timelines in comics. If you aren’t a regular reader, you’ll feel intimidated and lost. This hasn’t fallen on deaf ears, though, as the likes of Marvel and DC have introduced new comic lines that don’t require readers to understand all the twists and turns over the years.
If they're talking about the Ultimate line, the original one was cancelled nearly 5 years ago, but even that got tangled up in cynicism and its own confusion of tangled storylines. But if famous superhero lines are what concern them, then here's my challenging question: why don't they recommend the older material from the Golden/Silver/Bronze Ages? Plenty of which can be obtained in trade collections today, both paperback and hardcover, and even in the weakest moments, there is what to hold one's interest from back then. Let's take the Legion of Super-Heroes and Doctor Strange tales from the times, for example. Why not recommend those? It's not enough to just ask "where do I start?" It also has to be, "what books from what eras?" and cite some exact locations. Besides, one of the advantages many of those classic tales have is that they were usually self-contained, and either they were done-in-one, or if the story extended into more than one issue, it was rarely more than 3-4 parts.

They're correct about the endless reboots and relaunches, all done without even trying to market the victimized series as miniseries rather than ongoing, which could offer a modicum of cohesion. But considering how truly awful much of the mainstream's become in more than 2 decades, that's why there's no point recommending any of that. What deserves primary attention is the earlier material, especially the original beginnings for many of the superheroes.

Not mentioned here is the line-wide crossovers, also a serious cause of damage for mainstream superhero fare. If those aren't stopped for real, that's another reason why nobody'll know where to start, because crossovers have made self-contained stories nigh impossible. Another point made:
And finally, the film-makers don’t always help matters. It’s disheartening to see actors and directors admit they’ve never read a comic book or even credit the creators for what they’ve done and are doing. Look at Jennifer Lawrence, who couldn’t even name five X-Men characters in an interview; it’s evident she’s only in it for the cheque and couldn’t care less about the characters. These film-makers have a responsibility to shine the light on the people who made it all possible—not just the late Stan Lee, but every artist, writer, letterer and colourist who inspired a storyline.
True, though I would argue there's a lot of more recent contributors whose work is worthless compared to the Golden/Silver/Bronze material, and unfit for adaptation at all. If Greg Rucka's writings were ever adapted for film elements, I wouldn't consider him somebody to shine so much as a pocket flashlight upon. After all, wasn't he one of the writers behind the loathsome Countdown to Infinite Crisis, which saw Ted Kord, the 2nd Blue Beetle, getting blown away by Max Lord? That kind of mean-spirited storytelling is exactly what's brought down superhero comics, and in fact, it's just what I would NOT recommend any sane person start their reading experience with. To read that kind of trash would only be to come away with the impression that the medium is all about nastiness and misery. And that's exactly what comicdom has to avoid. The mainstream publishers certainly aren't helping, of course.

They're correct about filmmakers who aren't genuine experts with the comics they adapt, but seeing how the Marvel movie brand may be on its way to sinking from the success it initially had in the past decade, that's why it may eventually get to the point where one needn't worry much about it anymore.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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